U.S. to begin sea trials for ship that could destroy Syria's chemical arms
December 5th, 2013
03:01 PM ET

U.S. to begin sea trials for ship that could destroy Syria's chemical arms

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. plans to begin sea trials by the end of the month of a merchant marine ship with special equipment on board that can destroy much of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, according to a U.S. Defense Department official who briefed reporters.

The ship, the M/V Cape Ray, is now in port in the Norfolk area of Virginia being outfitted with a chemical weapons "neutralization" system developed by the Pentagon. If the trials go well and the Pentagon plan is accepted by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the ship could head to the region in January. The official, along with two others who briefed reporters, declined to be identified because the plan has not been approved by those international organizations.

The neutralization technology is called the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System. It mixes chemical agents with water and other chemicals to significantly lower any toxicity. The remaining material will then be destroyed in a commercial waste disposal site. "Absolutely nothing will be dumped at sea," the official said, adding that the technology is "safe and environmentally sound."

While the system has been used in a limited fashion in the past, what is new is the ability to put it on a mobile platform like a ship. Two of the units are now being installed on the Cape Ray.

Although no final decisions have been made, the concept calls for Syria's chemical agents to be brought to the port of Latakia in Syria in secure containers and then put aboard a still-to-be-determined ship. That ship will take the containers to another port, where the Cape Ray will pick up the containers and head out to sea for the neutralization process. The official said there is no final decision about where the pickup point will be.

However, there has been widespread understanding the operation is most likely to take place in the Mediterranean.

Under the OPCW program for Syria's weapons, the first shipments will be mustard gas, and liquid elements that can be mixed to make VX and sarin.

If the plan is approved, the Cape Ray will carry a crew of about 100 personnel, including 60 Defense Department civilians to work on the neutralization. No military personnel are expected to be involved. The ship is likely to be guarded by a Navy warship alongside, a senior U.S. military official said.

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Alex279

    Because you said word "probably"m which means not certainly, which means not at all. US wants it most. US pays for it.

    December 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Reply
    • Alex279

      ...oops, the post I tried to reply to has dissappeared after I hit reply button.

      December 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Reply
  2. Domestic Affair First

    This is how our tax dollars spending on. Middle class families got screwed left and right. Domestic problems are freaken messes. Why do we always stick our nose where it does not belong?

    December 7, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Reply
    • Truth

      Because you keep re-electing the same Congress

      over and over and over again. That is what they do.

      December 8, 2013 at 12:53 am | Reply
    • Hb

      We aren't sticking our noses where they don't belong, we are trying to make sure that we don't get bombed!

      December 31, 2013 at 11:34 am | Reply
  3. MLegendre

    Uh...we'll probably just load it up on this fancy 'boat' then dump the stuff in the ocean.

    December 7, 2013 at 8:23 am | Reply
  4. Rick from LA

    when you want something done right...

    December 6, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Reply
  5. J Fusco

    Reblogged this on From the Bridge Blog.

    December 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Reply
  6. JerseyJeff

    I am glad the United States was able to put this all together and it does say a lot about our capabilities and our goals.

    That being said, this was Russia's idea and the weapons probably came from Russia, why isn't Russia footing the bill for this?

    December 6, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.